Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Success is Up to You.

Everyone has experiences that change who they are, the way they see things and the way they want to live their lives. Anyone who has attended Legion Leadership Training Camp says those 10 days are one of those times--I agree.

A whole group of campers loaded onto one couch on the last night.

As a recent camper, I am under obligation not to share specific details about what activities went on at camp because of the chance of a future camper reading it and ruining their experiences at the camp. 
Personally, I learned more about myself in the last 10 days than I have in the past 16.5 years. As a group of around 63 campers, we were challenged to work together, step way out of our comfort zones and learn time management and how important preparation is. 
We were separated into 4 groups and through twists and turns we all had to work together and overcome our differences to earn applause and recognition from those around us.
When I first applied for the camp I thought nothing of it, but as soon as my acceptance letter came I got nervous, excited, but very nervous. I didn't know what to expect and believe me it's not what I expected, it was way more. I learned so much and met so many amazing friends I will never forget.

New and old friends.

We worked long nights and had long days, sleep was low on the priority list when there was so much to be accomplished and without the help and encouragement of other campers things would have been much more difficult. No one minded lending a helping hand no matter what your struggle was because everyone had different strengths. I know I wouldn't have gotten through some of my speeches without the help of my newfound friends. 

New found friendships.

It was a roller coaster, the last 10 days, but it was the best roller coaster I have ever been on! The experience of LLTC is irreplaceable and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
There were tears shed and words said through the tough times, but we overcame as one big new family. We worked together so well and when the staff of LLTC threw whatever they could on our paths to see how well we would overcome, as 63 grade 11 and 12 students, we did it. We made it and we graduated together. 
A song that I'm sure anyone you talked to who attended the 50th anniversary year of LLTC would say meant a lot to them would be I won't give up by Jason Mraz, we sang and danced and grew closer as a group through this song. I strongly suggest you take 4 minutes to listen to what the lyrics say.

Green Girls, we started and ended the 10 days together. We worked together through our differences and opinions and we all learned the importance of when to lead and when to follow and we got through the middle of the week and over the hump. We learned so much and I will miss every single one of you. 

One last lesson that seemed we all seem to hold close to our lives would be the meaning of "thats a good question". We learned to problem solve and how to figure out answers on our own. Without much guidance and answers through the week we learned how to lead ourselves and find the answers through our peers and within ourselves.

Lastly, I'd like to thank all of the staff. Although we sometimes got frustrated and annoyed with you, whether it was because we never got a straight answer or any positive feedback we all understand now that the things you did were helping us and now it is completely obvious that they shaped us and made us the changed leaders we are today. The Legion Leadership Training Camp experience helped me step out of my comfort zone in a million different directions and in ways I never thought possible, It gave me a new perspective on ways to live and ways to help and lead others around me and it showed me more important things in my life, than those I thought more important prior to LLTC.

Certificate of Achievement

We heard the statement "I will leave you with a quote" more than once over the 10 days we spent at NSAC in Truro, but here it is one more time.

"It's time for me to stop being so afraid. It's time for me to let go of the past. What happened, happened. It doesn't matter how many times I go over it in my head, think about what I should've done. It's too late. It's not going to change anything. I can't change the past, but I can better shape my future" -Unknown

Post written by Anna Jamieson

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dreams, Dresses and Haskap Berries?

Oh the joy of June as thoughts turn to the end of the school year, preparations of prom and graduation, processing the bountiful harvest of strawberries and anticipating vacation at the lake with lots of books, day trips and playing with the grandchildren.
Sarah, our fourth beautiful daughter, completed her 13 years of public school and graduated with honours on June 27. It was a special night and we are so proud of her. Her only grandparent (Grampie N.) made the long trek from Yarmouth to be a part of this and she really appreciated the effort that it took for him to be here. I know it meant a lot to her to share this special time with him. It seems as we get older, time marches on just a wee bit faster and we try to create memories that will last a lifetime for our children. I have paused this month to reflect back on Sarah's life and how she has matured into an amazing, smart woman, who has the potential to be and do anything she wishes. Her dream for the last couple of years is to pursue policing and we are not sure where that will lead, but she will be starting along that path this fall at St. Mary's University, enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Criminology degree.
As she journeys into this next phase of her life, my prayer for her would be that she remains strong in her values and morals and stay true to herself and  to the One who created her. Here are a few pictures of prom night and graduation.

Sarah and her boyfriend, Tanner, before the prom. So lovely.

Funny moment - probably after Tanner had to change his navy socks to black ones.

Three of our five beautiful daughters - such awesome girls. 

Cousins, both born in March, graduating together.

Friends in the Irving Centre - Sarah's dress was very outstanding.

Waiting for the walk across the stage to officially finish grade 12.

Accepting her diploma.

Receiving her scholarship from St. Mary's University.

Three generations - proud of our girl.

On a kitchen note - Andrew has been supplying me with the annual harvest of strawberries and we are all enjoying the new variety 'Laurel' that he named this spring. The jam production is going strong with 7 batches done and in the freezer. In December we certainly love the taste of summer we are putting away now. Today Andrew and I ventured up to the research station to do some grape work (he hasn't had Canada Day weekend off since he began work here 30 years ago!!). He then wanted to show me some haskap berries (this link will give you a bit of information on them) that they are experimenting with. There seemed to be a lot of berries ready to pick, so I suggested we do a batch of jam. After some tedious picking we managed to get enough for a batch and voila - delicious jam. It wasn't the coolest night of the year to make jam, but again, it will taste yummy in the middle of January on a piece of toast.

Our pan full of haskap berries.

And voila! Very tasty and rich coloured haskap jam. So delicious!

And I'm not sure what to say about these.

Today, we picked up Anna in Truro, where she spent the last 10 days involved in a leadership camp sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion. I am hoping to talk her into doing a guest blog for me after she gets some rest and debriefs a bit. She is a very tired but changed girl.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

May and June

And here is a synopsis of the last two months in the Jamieson household. Busy, fun and full of making memories. To begin with a few snapshots of 'Anne of Green Gables'. Many thanks to the director Mary Hanneman for the many hours invested in this cast. It was incredible to see it all come together in May and I can't wait to get the DVD to share with her sisters.

Anna (pupil of Avonlea) and Miss Stacy. 

Anne and Anna 

 Anna and Rachel at the end of 6 amazing shows.

 ... and a line full of petticoats (Mama's part!)

And we continue full on with honour choir practices, leisurely Sunday walks on the beach with dear friends and end of school banquets. Sarah's graduation post coming up!!

 Annapolis Valley Honour Choir - Final Concert

 Friends at Blue Beach in Avonport, leaning on the 'whale' rock. What a lovely day!

 Three buddies off to the Athletic Banquet. So pretty!

And finally the beauty of God's incredible creation captured not only in the natural setting but in the uniqueness of family and friends. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Sarah and I took a weekend break before the busyness of prom and graduation and headed on a road trip to NB. It was a joy to see our sweet grandchildren and visit with them. 

 Artistic talents of my amazing husband.

 How I love the sunsets on Harvey Lake.

 Back from an evening boat ride.

 The awesome St. John River and our sweet graduate.

 A great getaway weekend with friends and family.

On our way home - the Tantramar Marshes - using resources well.

Hope you have enjoyed this quick pictorial peek at the last two months.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April = New Growth

Easter morning 2012. It didn't last long though!! 

As spring approaches here in the Valley, I am reminded of God's faithfulness to us day after day and year after year. The new buds pushing their way open and crocuses peeking out to greet the sunshine. Spring is lovely and with Easter just past, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, I pause at this time of year to embrace the joy of knowing and serving my risen King.

Beautiful crocuses popping up in our backyard.

With mixed feelings I have 10 days of work left as ministry assistant at our church. It has been a time of growth as I have been challenged to step outside my comfort zone. Some of the projects that I have succeeded at would have seemed very daunting 4 years ago. To be stretched and given the opportunity to become more of the woman that God has called me to be is amazing. I look forward to what He has in store for me next. I have felt privileged to be part of the staff at NMBC for the past 4 years and given the challenge of establishing this position. I know that it will continue to be an essential job as our church grows and we continue to seek God's direction.
Andrew has taken up a new venture and rides every Saturday with the Centennial Bike Club. They put together a route every week and 20-30 bikers (all ages!) gather together and spend a couple of hours cycling through the Valley. He thoroughly enjoys this and who knows, maybe I will get the nerve up to join him at some point.

Getting ready for his Saturday morning ride.

Along with spring comes the annual urge to 'spring clean'. There are times I feel so overwhelmed with the 'stuff' we have accumulated over the years. So, my goal is to purge a lot of the things we haven't used for the last 5-10 years and gain some more empty space in our home. Along with getting rid of 'stuff' I have decided to get rid of facebook. After seeing some comments and status updates last week, it made me realize that this type of social network is a rich breeding ground for gossip and useless information. Very rarely do I come across anything that I need to know or gives me encouragement for the day. There is a certain freedom in giving this up and I can only see benefits by detaching myself from this - time for more fruitful endeavours and distancing myself from unnecessary and meaningless updates. The only thing I will really miss is the photos of my children and grandchildren. For those who are 'friends' and need to contact me, I still have a telephone (I would love to hear your voice) and e-mail.
Well, that's it for my mid-April post. Spring is definitely beginning to show itself and it certainly gives me a sense of anticipation.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Musings

My Sarah girl turned 18 this week. Where have 18 years gone? It just seems like yesterday that she joined our family on a blustery day in March. We welcomed another girl with open arms and hearts and our circle of love just grew larger.
Sarah and her favorite cherry cheesecake.

 Amused with Anna's gift.

We bought her a birthstone ring and Mama wrote 'another' letter. 

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. 
Today the girls and I visited my baby sister's gravesite for the first time since her funeral in March of 2005. Seven years have passed and I still find it hard to believe that she is gone and that March still brings with it memories, sorrow, and the insistent question of why. Sarah had been wanting to go and today dawned clear and was a good day for driving. Sarah, Anna and I drove to Camperdown and I was able to locate the church yard where Wendy is buried. I wasn't sure I would remember exactly how to get there, but managed to find it without any problem. 
Wendy was the sister any family would love to have. She was generous, kind-hearted and loved with an amazing heart. All my girls were very blessed to have her in their lives. She cared for them and loved them as if they were her own. Wendy was a joy to be around with her quick wit and beautiful smile. I miss her so much and think of her often. 

The girls remembering their special Aunt Wendy. 

Thank-you, Anna for your great photography today. 

We then headed towards home but made a quick stop in picturesque Mahone Bay for some more photo ops for Anna.
Mama and Sarah - Mahone Bay - March 2012 

The often photographed three churches in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.

A day of remembering, making new memories and getting in another spring road trip. Thanks girls!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekends Are For .....

This past weekend was a combination of relaxation, competition, celebrating new life and exploring a part of Nova Scotia that I have never experienced before.

Looking towards the Cabot Trail on the way to Sydney.

Anna's high school basketball team proceeded to the provincial competition which was taking place in Sydney, Cape Breton. I had never been to Cape Breton in the 27 years we have lived in Nova Scotia, so Andrew and I decided to go and cheer on the team and enjoy a relaxing weekend at a B&B. We booked 2 nights stay at Colby House and were pampered with a delicious breakfast for 2 mornings in a row.

Colby House, Sydney, Cape Breton

It was the break I needed and the girls won their first game against the Cape Breton Bears which put them in position for a Bronze medal. The last game against Yarmouth was a hard battle, and they ended up in fourth place. They played extremely well and came home very tired. Very proud of the NKEC Titans!!

The Northeast Kings Education Centre senior girl's basketball team.

We also celebrated with Kathryn and Tim this weekend as they welcomed their second little girl into their family. She weighed in at 7 lbs. 9 oz. and they gave her the name Kathryn (Kate) Jane. We certainly take advantage of Skype and have been able to see Kate and talk to Kathryn. She is a very adorable, perfect little girl. We are so very blessed to have 4 beautiful granddaughters.

Beautiful Katie Jane born March 3, 2012. 

All in all, a weekend to remember - thankful for my wonderful family.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Just north of Beijing

(This is a guest post from the husband of the blogger.)

Last week I attended the 7th International Strawberry Symposium, held in Beijing. Of the seven, I have only missed one. This one was the largest (~1000 delegates) and probably the most interesting from a scientific as well as cultural standpoint.

The site of the conference was building #16 of a resort complex. It had over 1000 rooms and three very large halls. There were lots of security people (Beijing Police, military, etc.) around to keep us in line and to prevent us from photographing the hotel. This image was from the bus as we were leaving.

The hotel lobby from the third floor.

These gals escorted dignitaries and posed for ordinary folks just wanting pictures.

In advance of the conference, a strawberry-themed exhibition centre and "theme park" were constructed.  Money seems to be no obstacle to showing who is #1 in world strawberry production.

Our tour guides awaiting us.

Production is mostly in these (passive) solar houses.  There are thousands of them north of Beijing.

The north brick wall is about 70 cm thick.  It absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night.  Even though the outside temperature may be -10 C, the inside temperature doesn't drop below about +8 C. Would this work in Nova Scotia tucked into the North mountain?

This experimental vertical system would go well in my kitchen.

A street scape viewed on our trip to the Juyongguan pass of the great wall.

Sixteen tour buses parked behind this arch.

The wall at this pass was designed to keep out invaders from the north.

It was a smoggy, hazy day (very common in the vicinity of Beijing). The wall climbs the mountain with watch towers at the peaks.

I walked up to the first tower. The stairs were uneven in height and very steep.  A good cardio workout!

Proof that I am not making it all up.

Very steep!

Normally, the wall wouldn't have this many people on it.

Detail on the eves of the Cloud Terrace.

The wall climbs the mountain on the opposite side of pass as well.  The great wall is a sort of pilgrimage site for the Chinese. From rural villages around the country, people desire to visit the great wall once in their lifetime.

Some old-school weapons.

Looking from the wall into a village.


Tourist shops.  Note the red banner which welcomes the Strawberry Symposium delegates.

Very ornate!

You have heard of a wall-flower, how about a wall-cat.
After leaving Juyongguan pass, we headed for the Ming tombs. Ming Dynasty emperors starting about 600 years ago built some fancy burial places for themselves and their favourite gals (who were interred at the same time as the emperor) along with some other possessions. There were 13 Ming tombs.  We visited the Dingling tomb which has been excavated and restored. All of the tombs were located in an area chosen for its favourable feng shui.

Approaching the Dingling tomb, you can just see the soul tower which is just before it.

The tree of choice is the Imperial Cypress. A closer look at the leaning ones in the distance show...

... that the leaners are actually made of concrete. Many of these cypresses are well over 200 years old,  ...

... and they even grow out of the walls.

The soul tower, contains a sculpted obelisk...

...which has a series of...

... dragons encircling it.

Descending 75 metres into the tomb...

... you pass through several arches which have doors of copper...

... then jade, each with 9 x 9  knobs which likely have some religious significance.

There were thrones, just in case his spirit needed a place to sit.

And finally, the final resting place.  The emperor would be in the biggest one.  Apparently the builders of this tomb would have been executed so they wouldn't tell others where it was located.

On a lighter note, a couple of humorous signs.

This was just below the shower head in my hotel room's bathroom.

Self explanatory in any language.

Thanks for sticking to the end.  It translates "I Love Beijing".